As you settle yourself to Thanksgiving dinner at your large overstuffed table surrounded by large overstuffed family and try not to listen to your mother and her drunk belligerent brother have their annual argument over who knocked who off a bike and down a ravine in 1971, it's natural to look forward toward the end of Thanksgiving. Natural, that is, unless you work retail. If you are employed in the high pressure, action packed industry of corporate retail then the day after Thanksgiving is a black hole in the year, a day you dread as you would your own funeral, and as good excuse as any to move to a log cabin in Montana and spend your days eating beans and whittling. It is known as Black Friday, historically the busiest day in retail.
Corporate retail PR and other such whores will tell you the Black Friday moniker is given because it's the day that major retail outlets finally abandon the red ink in which they have spend much of the year floundering and soar into the black on the wings of your hard earned and easily given dollars. They are lying, as we all know corporate retail PR whores are wont to do. Black Friday is named such because it is a dark day for the souls of all who suckle on the rancid teet of an unchecked consumer driven society. Down with the bourgeoisie! You capitalist pig dogs!
Oops, I'm sorry. I don't know where that came from.
Anyway, I offer for those of you who, either by choice or profession, will be at the mall this Friday the following Black Friday Retail Companion Guide. And, for a limited time, if you buy it with the game, it comes at %10 off!
Part 1: Tips For Retailers!
1) Remember: Customers are Stupid – A lot of people are going to ask you a lot of questions today that anyone with half a brain and extensive knowledge and training in your particular line of specialty retail would know. When concerned parents ask if the cotton-poly blend of the footsy pajamas they want to buy for their two-year-old is fire retardant, look at them as if they must be the dumbest people in the world, because they probably are. Don't let the fact that you don't actually know the answer to their question (it's that dumb a question! Not even worth your time.) be an issue. Just assure them that it is perfectly safe with an assured dismissive wave of your hand and an exaggerated eye-roll so they'll stop bothering you with their idiot problems. Besides, if their kid burns to death in a fiery crib, you'll have long since quit this short term crappy job, so it's hardly your problem.
2) Of Course It's Not In Stock – Your company went through a lot of trouble to print up and publish completely artificial and fictional advertisements in major outlets promoting stock you don't have at prices you wouldn't sell it for even if you did have it. Unfortunately your customers are so unbelievably stupid (see point 1) as to think that the advertised items will be in stock at the advertised price. Go ahead and laugh, I can wait.
When pressed on the issue of stocking advertised promotions, point out that the seven vagrants who slept huddled under a damp piece of cardboard in front of the store got the only ones you had in stock, and if they wanted whatever the hell it was so damn bad, then where were they at five in the morning?
Then, for good measure, spit on their shoes.
3) Customer Have No Idea How Annoying They Are – Your time is precious. Who cares whether it's the day after Thanksgiving or the day after Arbor Day; you always take your break at 11:45 and today is going to be no exception. So when some desperate moron asks for your advice on which 32 inch television he should buy, tell him it doesn't matter which 32 inch he buys because they're all tiny diseased particles of beetle dung compared to a real man's TV. Tell him if he doesn't buy a flat-panel plasma TV the size of a highway billboard, the one you get 13% commission on, then it's almost certainly because he has comically small genitals. Then look at your watch, tell him you'll see what stock you have in back, and take a ten or fifteen minute smoke break. He'll almost certainly be gone before you get back. Problem solved.
4) Add Ons are Good Customer Service – I know what you're thinking: who give's a rat's sphincter about Customer Service? The perfectly obvious answer is "˜nobody that matters', but it makes for a great buzzword, and serves as a kind of metaphorical petroleum jelly for the screw job you do to your customers. Anyway, adding things on to a purchase that your customer neither needs nor wants, particularly invisible imaginary objects like service plans or guarantees that your return policy already covers, usually means some extra coin in your pocket. You only make eight dollars an hour, and god knows the price of the cheap blackberry wine that keeps the demons away at night has skyrocketed past two dollars and fifty cents a bottle, so you need every penny your unskilled labor ass can put together. After all, you're no corporate CEO of a major retailer earning millions of dollars for pleasuring yourself in a corner office to the Wall Street Journal and concealing shady finances. Remember kids, successful Americans with more money than you are evil.
For those of you with real motivation, add on items without asking the customer. It means a lot more money for you without the pesky annoyance of having to convince the customer. If they challenge the add-on, tell them only an idiot doesn't add that on, and are they an idiot?
5) Laugh At People Who Don't Have An Xbox 360 – Customers, again as a direct result of their immeasurable stupidity, will have the ridiculous presumption that transacting business goes as follows: person arrives at store, chooses items to buy, makes purchase, leaves happy. We brainy folk know that every facet of that naÃ¯ve list is entirely unrealistic, but imagine the monumental ignorance involved in a customer walking into your establishment and supposing they can just buy an Xbox 360. What hubris! Treat these people as you would a social pariah. When they make their ridiculous inquiry ask them first if they have a reservation, this regardless of whether you have any in stock. When they inform you that they don't have one reserved, fools that they be, laugh at them. Loudly. Encourage other customers to laugh at them too. Maybe even pick up the phone and pretend to alert the media that some torpid customer thinks they can get an Xbox 360 without a reservation. Devise elaborate skits ahead of time with other staff members designed to make the customer feel very small, very ill informed, and ultimately hopeless. Then finally tell them they won't be able to buy an Xbox 360 until next September, but you do have a used Gamecube with a dirty footprint on the side that you can sell them.
And don't forget to ask them to reserve their PS3!
Part 2: Tips for Customers
1) Come to the Mall Angry! – It's a battlefield out there, and you are a one soccer mom army. It would be simple enough if you only had unpleasant sales associates and lunch from the food court to deal with, but your biggest problem is other customers. Look, Christmas Day itself, or Holidayday or Christmahaunakwanza or whatever those Jesus hating PC bastards want us to call it this time, is the time for giving and brotherhood and all that other happy fluffy nonsense, but any day before that is Go-Time! From crammed parking lots to the thirty person line behind one tired and painfully slow checkout person who, you're pretty sure, is crying, you've got to be looking out for #1 the whole time. That's all you, baby.
2) The Squeaky Wheel Gets 15% off Previously Marked Down Items – Be Rude! Many of you already exhibit a mastery of this concept on a daily basis. Being nice gets you smiles, but it also means nobody takes you seriously. A tired, part-time, minimum wage sales associate is already predisposed toward giving you practically anything if it will just get rid of you, but if you add a dose of rudeness into the equation, you can practically walk away with free stuff, and maybe the checkout kid's girlfriend as a trophy.
Being a good liar partners with this concept well. When you bring your item to the checkout counter, tell them that Todd over in Electronics said you could have this brand new portable DVD player for fifteen percent off because he liked your smile, and if they give you any trouble – this always works – threaten litigation! Lean over the counter in a very threatening alpha-dog manner; make erratic moves like you're both crazy and willing to punch things. And as a final point, jump up onto the counter and urinate on the cash register as a show of dominance. They won't be able to get rid of you quick enough.
3) Ask Long Winded Poorly Worded Questions at the Busiest Times - If I had to encapsulate all the ideas I'm trying to get across to you here it would be said as this: you are the most important person in the mall. That's right, you. Not that other guy reading this, he's just some Joe, and who gives a flying nun about guys named Joe? I sure don't! It's all about you, so if you have a question about the sweater you want to buy for your cousin who just got married in December, but her marriage isn't going that great because the guy she's with is a habitual gambler but they don't live near any casinos so he keeps finding reasons to take business trips to Vegas and now they're in debt, not because he lost at the craps table – actually he won $13,000 dollars – but because he used her credit cards, that he stole by the way, to buy high priced prostitutes and one of them stole her identity so now people keep calling and asking if she's available for bachelor parties and the credit card company wants to know what happened to the fifteen hundred dollars worth of lingerie and, you know, it's a hard time for her, but she's really into animal rights, and once even got arrested protesting a make-up company which is ironic because that prostitute spent like seven hundred dollars in lipstick, but anyway you want to know if the sheep that the sweater is made from comes from a free-range farm, then you go right ahead and ask. If the sales associate gets distracted at all, start over from the beginning.
4) Haggle – Retailers, despite any evidence to the contrary, like good sport. Yes, the item you're buying has already been marked down fifteen percent, and yes there are twenty-seven people standing in line behind you, and yes the person transacting your purchases doesn't even have the authority to take a bathroom break without issuing a written request, but you should definitely ask for an extra ten percent off this twelve dollar blouse because there's a loose thread in the armpit, and you consider that shopworn. When they say no, remember that they're just playing hardball. Demand to see the manager, and when he points out the line behind you and how the shirt is already on discount, ask him to call his District Manager at home immediately. If you have to go all the way up the ladder for your extra unnecessary two dollar discount, you do it. Don't let those retail bastards push you around!
5) For the Love of Generic Omnipotent Deity (G.O.D.) Stay HOME! – Seriously? Are you people insane? I'm not even going to a convenience store the day after Thanksgiving much less any major retailer. Having worked a Black Friday just last year, I can assure you that everyone out that day is clinically disturbed. I'd sooner pick a fight with a hungry Mike Tyson than go to the mall Friday, and honestly if you brave that retail endurance gauntlet, then you probably deserve whatever scars you walk away with.
But if you are foolish enough to challenge Black Friday we here at GWJ wish you luck, suggest you take plenty of ammunition, and hope these helpful tips prove useful. Use them only for good, never evil.
And if you see an extra Xbox 360, please buy me one.